Starring: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Jack Davenport, Terry Pheto, Tom Felton, Arnold Oceng, Jack Lowden, Laura Carmichael
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Story: Period biopic directed by Amma Asante which tells the true story of Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), the London office worker he married in 1947 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments.
After their marriage, Khama and Williams were forced to live in exile in the UK, but were allowed to settle in Bechuanaland in 1956, after popular demand culminated in the sending of a telegram to the young Queen Elizabeth II. Khama gave up his royal status, and was elected the first president of an independent Botswana in 1966.
Verdict: Conventional crowd pleasing true story with believable performances from Oyelowo and Pike, their chemistry really lifts off the screen. Although it doesn’t bring anything new to movies of this nature it’s still tells a relevant and powerful story with respect.
Best Quotes (Total Quotes: 24)
Charles: What’s this song supposed to be?
Seretse Khama: I don’t know, but they are utterly butchering it.
[Ruth laughs as she overhears them]
Ruth Williams: I’m sorry, I do love jazz, but I’ve never trusted an Englishman to play it.
Seretse Khama: Do you like to dance?
[to Ruth; referring to Seretse]
Muriel Williams: Father will hate him on sight. He’s cleverer than him and he’s black.
Ruth Williams: I’ve met the man I want to spend my life with!
[to Seretse; referring to Ruth]
Charles: Are you insane! White, British, and she’s a salesman daughter!
[as Seretse is walking her back home]
Ruth Williams: You should stop here.
Ruth Williams: My father, he wouldn’t approve. I’m just two streets away. Can we do this again? I mean meet? Is that too forward of me?
Seretse Khama: No. No.
Ruth Williams: What?
Seretse Khama: Queen Victoria. The man who negotiated for her protection of Bechuanaland, he was my grandfather. A king. I am his heir.
[Ruth looks shocked]
Ruth Williams: Oh. I see. Thank you. Thank you for explaining, not simply disappearing. I quite understand.
[she takes his coat off her shoulders and gives it back to him]
Ruth Williams: I have had a wonderful evening.
[Ruth turns to leave]
Seretse Khama: Ruth!
[Ruth turns to face him]
Seretse Khama: No, I don’t think you do understand. I don’t know what happened tonight, but I do know that I would hate to walk away from you here, in this moment, knowing that I wouldn’t see you again.
Ruth Williams: Well then you must.
[he looks disappointed]
Ruth Williams: I mean see me again, I mean.
Seretse Khama: [to Ruth] My grandfather was a king, I am his heir. I have a responsibility to return home to my people.
Ruth Williams: Am I late?
Seretse Khama: No. No, not at all.
Ruth Williams: Is something the matter?
Seretse Khama: I’ve been thinking about my responsibilities back home in Bechuanaland. There is so much that I need to do there, but I know that I will never achieve anything worthwhile if I leave my heart here. I’m not asking for an answer this very second. All I ask of you is that you go away and think about it, because there is a lot to think about. And I…
[he suddenly kneels in front of Ruth and holds up a ring in its box]
Ruth Williams: I don’t need to think about it. I know I love you, and I know what you’re asking, what I mean. And, yes. Yes. Yes, Seretse, I will marry you.
[he rises up and kisses her]
Alistair Canning: [to Ruth] I am the government’s representative in Southern Africa. The policy of apartheid, do you know this word? If you choose to marry the leader of an African nation you will be responsible for the downfall of the British Empire in Africa. Have you no shame?
Seretse Khama: Malnutrition, malaria. There is so much that I need to do.
Rufus Lancaster: This could make your country ungovernable.
Seretse Khama: Uncle, this is Ruth.
Ruth Williams: I’m very pleased to meet you, sir.
Tshekedi Khama: I will speak to my nephew alone. Refreshment will be provided for you in the house.
[Ruth enters the house and watches Tshekedi talk to Seretse]
Tshekedi Khama: Over two decades of preparing you to be our king and this is how you face me. A white woman by your side.
Seretse Khama: Uncle…
Tshekedi Khama: Are you trying to tear us apart.
Naledi Khama: I am Naledi, Seretse’s sister.
Ruth Williams: Naledi. Seretse’s told me so much…
Naledi Khama: Please don’t. Why would you do this to us, to yourself? Be somewhere and something that makes no sense to you?
[referring to Seretse and Tshekedi talking outside]
Naledi Khama: Look at them. They are fighting because of you.
Ruth Williams: I mean you no harm.
Ella Khama: Do you understand what mother, mother of our nation means?
[she repeats the words in Setswana]
Ella Khama: I married Seretse’s uncle knowing my responsibility. That one day Seretse’s wife would be chosen from our nation and I would hand over to her. We have waited years for the day we would see her rule by his side.
Tshekedi Khama: Your first duty is to your people, your nation. Seretse, you’re a son to me.
[he embraces Seretse]
Tshekedi Khama: Please, be my son.
Ella Khama: I will entertain you in my home, if that is my husband’s wish. But don’t insult us. It’s audacious of you to come here and present yourself married as if it were your right to be our queen. Who do you think will accept you? The men?
Ruth Williams: I…
Ella Khama: Us, the women? To have a white woman who we must love and trust and respect as our sovereign.
Ella Khama: You belong to the whites, but they won’t want you either. You insult us all.
[she turns and walks off]
Naledi Khama: Let him go. We need him more than you.
[referring to Ruth]
Tshekedi Khama: [to Seretse] How long before the village dust gets in her eyes?
[to his people]
Seretse Khama: I am told that you no longer wish for me to honor my duties to serve you as your king because of the color of the wife I have chosen. South Africa’s racialist disease has infected all our neighboring countries and us. Look around you! Our schools, hospitals, churches, all segregated in practice if not in law. Are we to now uphold the abomination that is apartheid in our own culture? The very same abomination that has been oppressing us for decades! Is this to the future for our Africa? We should not be fighting for segregation! We should be fighting for equality! That is where we should be focusing our minds, not on the wife I have chosen, who means you no harm! Whose only apparent crime has been to fall in love with me, and mine to fall in love with her! I cannot serve you without her by my side, but I cannot force you to accept this! Africa can never be free until all those who live in her, white and black, recognize that race must have no bearing on equality and justice! I am ready to serve you, because I love my people! I love this land! But I love my wife!
Alistair Canning: [to Seretse] Now you will see how an empire defends itself, Mr. Khama.
Ruth Williams: [to Seretse] We’ve misjudged this, haven’t we?
Alistair Canning: We have concluded that you should be exiled.
Seretse Khama: I belong with my people.
[to his people]
Seretse Khama: No man is free who is not master of himself. It is time for us to create a new nation, a new Africa! It is time for democracy, for independence, for us to be the masters of our own faith! It is time!
[referring to Ruth]
Lady Lilly Canning: She’s stronger than either of us suspected. She’s a woman who is loved.
[the tribeswomen sing to Ruth]
Ruth Williams: Why are they here?
Ella Khama: They are thanking you for walking the road with them. This song is about you. They are saying Seretse’s wife is as bright as the morning star.
[Ruth becomes emotional as she listen’s to the women singing]
[holding onto Ruth as they are sat on a balcony ledge]
Seretse Khama: Did I ever tell you I didn’t just marry you for your good looks.
[Ruth slides down her skirt over her leg]
Ruth Williams: Liar.
[they both laugh]
Seretse Khama: I can’t do this alone anymore.
Ruth Williams: Find your way back to me, Seretse. Find your way back.
Total Quotes: 24